Great Life Grain Free (Dry)

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Rating: ★★★★½

Great Life Grain Free Dog Food receives the Advisor’s second-highest tier rating of 4.5 stars.

The Great Life Grain Free product line includes 2 dry dog foods.

Each recipe below includes its related AAFCO nutrient profile when available on the product’s official webpage: Growth, Maintenance, All Life Stages, Supplemental or Unspecified.

Important: Because many websites do not reliably specify which Growth or All Life Stages recipes are safe for large breed puppies, we do not include that data in this report. Be sure to check actual packaging for that information.

  • Great Life Grain Free Salmon Recipe [U]
  • Great Life Grain Free Chicken Recipe [U]

Great Life Grain Free Chicken Recipe was selected to represent the other products in the line for this review.

Great Life Grain Free Chicken Recipe

Dry Dog Food

Estimated Dry Matter Nutrient Content

Protein = 34% | Fat = 16% | Carbs = 42%

Ingredients: Chicken (dehydrated), chicken meal, lentils, peas, chickpeas, tapioca starch, navy beans, salmon oil, dried sweet potatoes, dicalcium phosphate, coconut flour, natural flavor, flaxseed, tomato pomace, alfalfa meal, calcium carbonate, choline chloride, salt, potassium chloride, freeze dried salmon, minerals (zinc proteinate, iron proteinate, copper proteinate, manganese proteinate, sodium selenite, calcium iodate), vitamins (vitamin E supplement, niacin supplement, d-calcium pantothenate, riboflavin supplement, vitamin A supplement, thiamine mononitrate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, vitamin B12 supplement, folic acid, vitamin D3 supplement), dandelion greens, dried Bacillus coagulans fermentation product, glucosamine hydrochloride, chondroitin sulfate, green lipped mussel powder, pumpkin seeds, dried kelp, dried carrots, dried blueberries, dried spinach, dried kale, dried papaya, dried zucchini, turmeric

Fiber (estimated dry matter content) = 5.6%

Red items indicate controversial ingredients

Estimated Nutrient Content
MethodProteinFatCarbs
Guaranteed Analysis31%15%NA
Dry Matter Basis34%16%42%
Calorie Weighted Basis30%34%36%
Protein = 30% | Fat = 34% | Carbs = 36%

The first ingredient in this dog food is dehydrated chicken. Dehydrated chicken is considered a meat concentrate and contains more than four times as much protein as fresh chicken.

Plus (unlike chicken meal) dehydrated chicken is never exposed to high temperatures during processing, so it preserves more of the meat’s natural nutrients.

The second ingredient is chicken meal. Chicken meal is considered a meat concentrate and contains nearly 300% more protein than fresh chicken.

The third ingredient includes lentils. Lentils are a quality source of carbohydrates. Plus (like all legumes) they’re rich in natural fiber.

The fourth ingredient lists peas. Peas are a quality source of carbohydrates. And like all legumes, they’re rich in natural fiber.

However, both lentils and peas contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

The fifth ingredient lists chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans. Like peas, bean and lentils, the chickpea is a nutritious member of the fiber-rich legume (or pulse) family of vegetables.

However, chickpeas contain about 22% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

The sixth ingredient is tapioca starch, a gluten-free, starchy carbohydrate extract made from the root of the cassava plant.

The seventh ingredient includes navy beans, legumes naturally high in dietary fiber and other healthy nutrients.

However, beans contain about 25% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

It’s important to note that a number of ingredients included in this recipe are each a type of legume:

  • Lentils
  • Peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Beans

Although they’re a mixture of quality plant ingredients, there’s an important issue to consider here. And that’s the recipe design practice known as ingredient splitting.

If we were to combine all these individual items together and report them as one, that newer combination would likely occupy a significantly higher position on the list.

In addition, legumes contain about 25% protein, a factor that must also be considered when judging the meat content of this dog food.

The eighth ingredient is salmon oil. Salmon oil is naturally rich in the prized EPA and DHA type of omega-3 fatty acids. These two high quality fats boast the highest bio-availability to dogs and humans.

Depending on its level of freshness and purity, salmon oil should be considered a commendable addition.

The ninth ingredient is sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are a gluten-free source of complex carbohydrates in a dog food. They are naturally rich in dietary fiber and beta carotene.

From here, the list goes on to include a number of other items.

But to be realistic, ingredients located this far down the list (other than nutritional supplements) are not likely to affect the overall rating of this product.

With six notable exceptions

First, we find coconut flour, a powder derived from dried, defatted coconut meat. This cereal grain replacement is high in fiber and low in digestible carbohydrates.

Next, we note the use of flaxseed, one of the best plant sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Provided they’ve first been ground into a meal, flax seeds are also rich in soluble fiber.

However, flaxseed contains about 19% protein, a factor that must be considered when judging the actual meat content of this dog food.

In addition, tomato pomace is a controversial ingredient, a by-product remaining after processing tomatoes into juice, soup and ketchup.

Many praise tomato pomace for its high fiber and nutrient content, while others scorn it as an inexpensive pet food filler.

Just the same, there’s probably not enough tomato pomace here to make much of a difference.

Next, we also find alfalfa meal in this food. Although alfalfa meal is high in plant protein (about 18%) and fiber (25%), this hay-family item is more commonly associated with horse feeds.

Additionally, we note the inclusion of dried fermentation products in this recipe. Fermentation products are typically added to provide enzymes to aid the animal with digestion.

And lastly, this food contains chelated minerals, minerals that have been chemically attached to protein. This makes them easier to absorb. Chelated minerals are usually found in better dog foods.

Great Life Grain Free Dog Food
The Bottom Line

Judging by its ingredients alone, Great Life Grain Free Dog Food looks like an above-average dry product.

But ingredient quality by itself cannot tell the whole story. We still need to estimate the product’s meat content before determining a final rating.

The dashboard displays a dry matter protein reading of 34%, a fat level of 16% and estimated carbohydrates of about 41%.

As a group, the brand features an average protein content of 34% and a mean fat level of 16%. Together, these figures suggest a carbohydrate content of 42% for the overall product line.

And a fat-to-protein ratio of about 45%.

Above-average protein. Near-average fat. And below-average carbs when compared to a typical dry dog food.

Even when you consider the protein-boosting effect of the lentils, peas, chickpeas, navy beans, flaxseed and alfalfa meal, this looks like the profile of a kibble containing a notable amount of meat.

Bottom line?

Great Life Grain Free is a plant-based dry dog food using a notable amount of named meats as its main sources of animal protein, thus earning the brand 4.5 stars.

Highly recommended.

Please note certain recipes are sometimes given a higher or lower rating based upon our estimate of their total meat content and (when appropriate) their fat-to-protein ratios.

Great Life Dog Food
Recall History

The following list (if present) includes all dog food recalls since 2009 directly related to this product line. If there are no recalls listed in this section, we have not yet reported any events.

You can view a complete list of all dog food recalls sorted by date. Or view the same list sorted alphabetically by brand.

To learn why our ratings have nothing to do with a product’s recall history, please visit our Dog Food Recalls FAQ page.

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Special FDA Alert

The FDA has announced it is investigating a potential connection between grain-free diets and a type of canine heart disease known as dilated cardiomyopathy. Click here for details.

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06/26/2017 Last Update